Have you ever had a dream that was so powerful that it took hold of your life and settled in your heart? From the time I was a small girl I remember my parents prayers with a longing plea, “O Lord, Deliver us!” The prayer took root in my heart and became its song. That prayer may have been a part of why God chose me to be a prophet , and my call to help DELIVER my people. I AM a prophet! My name is Miriam.
Called to help DELIVERER
One night, after prayers, my parents – Jochebed and Amram to you – told me that I would have another little brother. They were excited and afraid at the same time – I could tell. But he was to be a secret. And I asked them, “Is he the Deliverer?” They were shocked and surprised at my question – but my heart sang with joy because I KNEW. I KNEW he was the Deliverer for whom my people had prayed for 300 years.
When he was born, the midwives kept the secret to save him and my mother hid him in the house. He was a good baby – (eye roll) not rowdy like 3 year old Aaron. NO ONE could EVER hide him! But this baby stayed quiet and we hid him for three months. Then my mother was afraid that we couldn’t hid him anymore and so she made a little ark – a special basket woven tightly and lined with pitch to keep it waterproof and a tight-fitting lid to keep him inside when it moved. She put the basket in the shallows with the reeds and told me to keep watch. I watched – and prayed for my brother, the Deliverer– and sang to him so he wouldn’t cry, singing the song of my heart. Pharoah’s daughter came to her usual spot to bathe, and I prayed and sang – (Pause) and nudged. She saw it, as I had hoped, and opened it up. And she was charmed by my little brother and decided to keep him. To save him. She was still figuring things out – that he was a Hebrew child and his life was at risk – and I ran up and offered to find her a woman to nurse him and care for him while he was young. She smiled and said that she would pay the woman to care for him. So I ran and got my mother, who came to get my brother, now named “Moses,” and take him home. So our family was together and we were safe and had more money now. And my parents taught little Moses about God and God’s promise to deliver us from slavery and take us to a new land. And the song in my heart was strong.
Called to help in the DELIVERANCE.
You probably know the next part of the story. Moses went to live in the palace when he was old enough to have basic manners – and old enough to know who he was and where he came from. He learned the customs of Egypt and how to lead. But he never forgot who he was and when he saw an Egyptian mistreating a Hebrew slave, he killed him and buried his body in the sand. That meant he had to flee from Egypt – and I wondered, how would God save us? Moses was gone for 40 years – and while I prayed still every day for God to DELIVER US, I wasn’t so sure that Moses was the DELIVERER. Maybe I was wrong…maybe it was pride that made me think he was the one, and that God would deliver us in my lifetime. The song grew fainter in my heart, but it was still there. And then Aaron got a message to meet Moses in the desert – that he was coming home. And the song in my heart grew strong again. God was going to act for us and Moses was his instrument.
Moses returned and he and God battled Pharaoh over our freedom. That was hard, but we could see God at work through Moses. And after the Passover, the time came and we left. God was delivering us! Imagine our fear when we realized that Pharaoh had changed his mind and was pursuing us with chariots and horses. We were a large group, many hurt or old, with children. We couldn’t possibly outrun an army. And then the Reed Sea was in front of us. I know you have heard it was the Red Sea – but that’s too far south and too large. It gets confusing when ancient Hebrew writing doesn’t have vowels – people tend to make things up and the Red Sea is bigger and makes a better story, I guess. But the location probably doesn’t matter to you – it’s what God did. God told Moses to hold out his staff and we could walk through. When we reached the other side, the waves washed the army of Egypt away.
I looked around at the faces of our people and saw ALL the emotions. Fear at what they had seen, anger that they had been afraid, grief at losing the land they had known, and perhaps the beginnings of hope. I also saw the beginning of the protest. I understand that now it is called a “back to Egypt committee.” There are always some folks who want things the way they once were – they remember the leeks and meat – but forget the whips and hard labor. Moses was tired. He couldn’t deal with an ensuing rebellion. So I grabbed my tambourine and began to sing and dance. Everyone joined in the celebration – we needed a party right then! And in my song I reminded them that GOD brought us here. GOD delivered us – and GOD would be leading us to a new home, caring for us on the way, protecting us from armies. Glory to God! God is greater than the armies of Egypt! Glory to God! God is greater than the might of Pharaoh! AND WE WERE DELIVERED by the HAND of the LORD! The song burst out of my heart through my voice and my hands and my feet! And the people all sang with me.
But not all of the days were like that. Deliverance isn’t as easy as you would think. There was a lot of grumbling and complaining and my song wasn’t always the answer. The desert burns a lot out of you – and there were moments when it was a toss-up on which was harder, desert wandering or slavery. And I lost my song.
Without my song, without my focus on God – I stumbled. I was wrong. It was my pride that was the problem. I am a prophet, but Moses seemed to be the only one talking with God. It was hard to hear my song of deliverance when we seemed to be endlessly wandering. I was wrong. I hurt Moses with my rebellion. (pause)
And God judged me. God called the three of us before the Shekinah — the presence of the Lord – and afflicted me with leprosy for my failings. Moses and Aaron were shocked, and pleaded for God to heal me. And God is merciful and did heal me – but I was forced to live outside the camp for a week until someone, not Aaron or Moses, but another priest would say that I was free from leprosy. Everyone knew I had failed them – failed my brother Moses, and failed my people. Pride – it distracts us from what God is doing and focuses us on ourselves. And we make bad choices then.
I was a humbled prophet the rest of my days. Still one of the three leaders of the Deliverance: Moses, Aaron and Miriam, as mentioned by the prophet Micah. But never again would I challenge the leadership of Moses. I held on to my song. I sang it every day to myself and to the children. Because my song was also the song of the LORD. A song of deliverance not just for the Hebrews, but for all people. It is a reminder that God is greater than governments and armies. It is a reminder that God seeks justice for all people, and especially those who are abused or downtrodden. It is a song of hope. And I will sing it all my days. This is the song of God, the song of deliverance and freedom – for the people of God.